The Road Ahead and Miles Behind: A Story of Healing and Redemption between Father and Son (Morgan James Publishing, 152 pp. $12.95, paper; $9.95, Kindle) is a book about a road trip taken by a two-tour Iraq War veteran and his father. Although neither is a Vietnam War veteran, the book’s messages are meaningful to all who served in uniform.
The two drove cross country in a van to attend the Sebring 12 Hours race in November 2020. Mike Ligouri and his father James were quite dysfunctional and close to estranged. James Ligouri had caused the divorce by cheating on Mike’s mother. This caused a lot of bitterness.
Plus, Mike and his dad had never connected. Mike felt that his father was never there for him. “It’s an awful thing to admit you dislike someone you love,” he writes.
His father was a race car fanatic and Mike was not interested. Suddenly, out of the blue, his father called him about accompanying him on his annual road trip to Florida to see the race. Mike decided to go, even though his father had a track record of letting him down.
The eleven-day trip allowed the two to mend fences and find common ground. Mike worried that all that time with his father would exacerbate their problems. That didn’t happen, and the good news is that the book is not about eleven days of silence—or yelling. The two ended up discussing a wide range of topics. God and the afterlife, for instance, which gets an entire chapter. The trip does not turn Mike into a racing fanatic, but it’s successful in bridging the gap between father and son.
Early in the book, you will start thinking of your father (or son) and by the end of it, you will be pondering a road trip with him. The book is not bittersweet. However, it could create bittersweet memories in its readers.
Although Mike is a war veteran and alludes to PTSD issues, his book is not about a troubled veteran dealing with his inner demons.
Mike and his dad have a fairly common relationship. Many will relate to being on a different wavelength than their father. “Our parents want what’s best for us,” Mike observes. “We want to discover on our own what’s best for us.”
The book has a few themes that will stick with you. “Life is not meant to be done alone,” for example, and “Life is a race anyway. Might as well run it.” Father and son buy matching t-shirts that read, “It’s all about the ride.” The book shows that a ride, if it’s hours with your dad (or mom), can totally change a parent-child relationship.
I suppose that could be for the worse, but this book concentrates on the positives. If you take a similar trip, you may find that you are more like your father than you think or want to admit.
The Road Ahead and Miles Behind is a book that I highly recommend if you have a less-than- ideal relationship with your father (or son). By asking why your fatther did things that had a negative impact on your life you may learn that he was sheltering you from things that were bothering him.
In the case of Mike and James Liguori, it was job problems. If your father has died, you might find comfort in realizing that any coldness you felt may have been his way of sheltering you from the grim realities of life.